Snake Dream: Allowing Growth To Live Your Own Particular Life
Today’s podcast is about a dream I had last week. I describe the process of using the dream to understand myself and my relationship to life more deeply and to also find practical ways to heed my dream message in how to live life day to day.
I had a dream last week that there was a big snake in the dense bush out the front of the house. I am standing on the deck, in front of a white weatherboard house, which is well-lit on the inside. To the left corner of the deck stands a dense old bush with light bark, that looks bright in the night. My younger 3- or 4-year-old self is sitting on a lower branch with her back to the house. As I see her sitting there, I also see closer to the middle of the bush, part of a very big, white bellied snake. I can only see about 30 cm of it. However, the circumference of the snake is about 80cm! So somewhere in the bush is the rest of that snake. I have a feeling of fear at the thought that the snake might wake up while my little one is in the bush, so I gently go up to her and gesture to her to come out of the tree into the house.
It took me a week of thinking and feeling into this dream to know what to do with it, if anything. For me, when I think of a snake, I feel the fear of death; of being attacked and poisoned. The white house is lit up on the inside, which to me means that this is where I have clarity and consciousness. It is also the safest place for my little one. Outside the house, in the dark, where the snake is in the bush, is where what is still unconscious, resides. It is my conscious grounded adult self who can relate to this without coming to harm. My child self doesn’t have the capability, nor does she need to have the capability, to face the strong currents of life.
Last night I used active imagination to work with the dream-image. I went into meditation and recalled the image. In doing active imagination there is a mix of decision making and also just things moving and appearing of their own accord from the unconscious. I am again on the deck in the dark and take my child self inside, where I see that my maternal and paternal grandparents are sitting with her while she plays. Knowing that she is taken care of, I go outside onto the deck and climb into the bush where my child self had been sitting. In my mind I speak to the snake to let it know I am there and then I wait for what might happen. Then from the corner of my eye I can see the snake moving and then its huge head is there in front of me. I feel a clench in my stomach but stay where I am, trusting I have made the right decision to relate to the snake in my own time and by my own choice. It was going to happen, so I welcome it and cooperate with the process.
It then places its gaping jaw over the top of my head and starts moving down over my body. Then a voice inside of me, that is at the same time the snake’s and life’s voice, says to trust the process. I will move through the snake by its peristaltic action and the best and safest thing I can do is to relax and stay present. If I constrict in my body in any way, that will go against this natural movement and cause poisoning. And so I allow myself to relax and feel the body of the snake pull me further in. And that is where the active imagination process ends.
Obviously, the process of being digested by the snake is ongoing for now, with a to me unknown outcome. Practically though, in my everyday life, I remember to relax and connect with my body which results in staying away from overthinking and scenarioalising.
The snake’s peristaltic action is like the undulation of life-force; constricting and letting go; cycles of introversion and extroversion; the in and out breath; birth and death. I am lived by this peristaltic life-force action, and the more I can allow, the less I get ‘poisoned’ by emotional drama or toxic thinking. The fear is of the separate ego-self being out of control; it is counter-intuitive for it, to allow and surrender to life.
I sometimes feel that we use our physical, intellectual and imaginative muscles much more than we need to. IE we need our muscles to walk, swallow, hold a cup, breathe etc. But we don’t need our muscles to push us through life beyond our own particular and natural endurance. I sometimes find myself using my muscles when I am in the car, trying to go faster, trying to be somewhere earlier than what is possible. If I allow myself to get really fired up, I’ll be sitting in my car with neck and arm muscles tensed, for no outcome at all except for soreness and tiredness. And if one does this every day, it becomes one’s posture and thus one’s attitude to life. Most of us are familiar with overuse of our intellectual and imaginative muscles to IE overthink the past and scenarioalise the future. However, I believe that most of the time we can allow life to move our bodies and make use of our muscles only when it is really needed.
The gazanias out in my front garden open and close every day to the sun…. without any muscles!! Their growing, opening and closing happens through life-force. Not all flowers open and close, but gazanias do. So as life-force undulates through the gazania, it is allowing the gazania to express its gazania-ness. And one of the things that is particular to the gazania is that it responds to the warmth of the sun by opening its flower.
Coming back then to my self that is moving through the snake’s digestion, this then is my self allowing life to do with me what it will. The less I use my muscles to hurry, defend or cower (the learned responses of the fearful separate self), the more life-force can move my particular fundamental self.
I can open to the sun. I can allow the light in of conscious awareness. And if there is still a part of my experience that is unconscious (which there always is) I know that I can walk towards it without fear, in my willing and grounded adult self. Life and its expression in life-force, is globally and holistically wise. It flows easily but also irrevocably. It takes a lot of energy to try and go against it.
Inside the well-lit house of my conscious self, my little one plays. As I, her adult self, take care of the undigested, unconscious parts of my experience, she is able to play; play being the unimpeded expression of creativity; innocent of the need of any outcome or shape.
Thank you for listening and have a playful day.